Movements of female polar bears (Usrus maritimus) in the East Greenland pack ice

Øystein Wiig, Erik W. Born, Leif Toudal Pedersen

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The movements of two adult female polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in East Greenland and the Greenland Sea area were studied by use of satellite telemetry between the fall of 1994 and the summer of 1998. One female was tracked for 621 days, the other for 1,415 days. During this time the females used maternity dens on land. If denning periods on land were excluded, the two females used between 73% and 100% of the tracking time offshore where they were able to navigate in the dynamic pack ice and counteract the fast southward movement of the ice (up to 30 km/h) in the East Greenland Current. Mean monthly movement rates varied between 0.32 and 0.76km/h. Both bears had very large home ranges (242,000 and 468,000 km(2)) within the dynamic pack ice of the Greenland Sea. The facts that the bears made extensive use of the offshore sea ice and that there is a marked reduction of the Greenland Sea ice call for a closer monitoring of the effects of this change on the East Greenland polar bear population.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolar Biology
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)509-516
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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